Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

First Advisor

Colette M. Taylor

Second Advisor

Holly Slay Ferraro

Third Advisor

Stacey E. Robbins


Social entrepreneurship increases women’s social inclusion and empowerment by providing self-employment opportunities (Datta & Gailey, 2012). There is growing attention, locally and globally, to social entrepreneurship from economic, social, environmental, and industrial lenses (Cornforth, 2014.) Grounded by feminist and empowerment theories, this phenomenological case study investigated the perceptions of women social entrepreneurs about leadership. In addition, the study explored the barriers to effective leadership in social entrepreneurship.

A total of five participants participated in this study. The participants were five women leaders in social enterprise with experience in the field ranged from 3-40 years. Data was collected through multiple avenues including the researcher, semi-structured interviews, reflective journaling, and demographic survey questionnaire.

The thematic Constant comparison coding was used to analyze the data collected. To ensure accuracy, the researcher shared the data transcripts with the participants and received feedback (Creswell, 2017).

The overall findings of this study support that the participants in this study perceive leadership as an act of empowerment and advocacy. The participants also shared their perception of leadership as a process of contusions learning. The study identified one main barrier to effective leadership as the intersection of race-gender-ethnicity.

Based on the findings of this study, implications, and recommendations to support and enhance the practice for women leaders were developed.